flag Mali Mali: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Mali has an open economy in which trade accounts for around 65% of the country’s GDP (World Bank, 2020). Customs duties are relatively low (the average applied tariff rate is 10%), and there are very few legal or regulatory trade barriers. Mali mainly exports gold (72.9% of total exports in 2019, Comtrade), cotton (11.6%), live animals, and fertilisers; importing chiefly petroleum oils (27% of total imports), cement (4%), medicaments, and electrical apparatus.

The country is a member of WTO, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), whose objective is to reduce trade barriers through the creation of a common market. One of Mali’s primary objectives was to reach self-sufficiency regarding cereal production and to become the leading grain supplier for countries in West Africa. However, although it has achieved satisfactory results, Mali is yet to become a net exporter of cereals. Cotton production, on the other hand, has been on the rise over the last agricultural season, allowing Mali to become the largest supplier of cotton in Africa. The adoption of economic sanctions by ECOWAS and UEMOA early 2022, including a trade and financial embargo and border closures, could negatively impact trade. The bulk of Mali’s exports go to South Africa (36.5% of total exports), followed by Switzerland (35.6%), Bangladesh (7.1%), Ivory Coast (4.2%) and Burkina Faso (2.8%). Senegal (which accounts for 22.5% of Mali’s total imports) is the biggest supplier, followed by China (15.8%), Ivory Coast (10.6%) and France (7.9%) (Comtrade, latest data available).

Mali’s trade balance is structurally in deficit and is largely dependent on commodity prices. According to figures by WTO, in 2020 the country’s exports of merchandise increased to USD 3.92 billion (from USD 3.68 billion in 2019), while imports of merchandise decreased to USD 4.88 billion (from USD 5.13 billion). Mali is also a net service importer: the value of commercial services imports stood at USD 1.61 billion, against USD 542 million in exports. According to Malian government, in spite of expected higher cotton production in 2022, lower gold prices will contribute to the deterioration of the trade balance. The import bill will remain large, due to the recovery of domestic demand and high energy prices (Coface).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 4,2864,7225,1344,8776,530
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,8963,5843,6753,9235,015
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,3231,3941,5321,6052,343
Exports of Services (million USD) 441486672542513
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -14-126-3n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11-020n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -704-383n/an/an/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 58606160n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 36363633n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 22252526n/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
South Africa 36.5%
Switzerland 35.6%
Bangladesh 7.1%
Ivory Coast 4.2%
Burkina Faso 2.8%
See More Countries 13.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
Senegal 22.5%
China 15.8%
Ivory Coast 10.6%
France 7.9%
India 3.1%
See More Countries 40.1%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

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Main Products

3.6 bn USD of products exported in 2019
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 72.9%
Cotton, carded or combedCotton, carded or combed 11.6%
Live bovine animalsLive bovine animals 4.1%
Live sheep and goatsLive sheep and goats 1.6%
Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or...Mineral or chemical fertilisers containing two or three of the fertilising elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; other fertilisers (excl. pure animal or vegetable fertilisers or mineral or chemical nitrogenous, phosphatic or potassic fertilisers); animal, vegetable, mineral or chemical fertilisers in tablets or similar forms or in packages of a gross weight of <= 10 kg 1.2%
See More Products 8.6%
5.1 bn USD of products imported in 2019
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 27.0%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not...Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 4.0%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.8%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 2.1%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 1.9%
See More Products 61.2%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows


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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs duties


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
International Economic Cooperation
Member of West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)

Member of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Useful Resources
Customs service (in French)
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
Find on this page the contact of the Malian Center for Industrial Property (CEMAPI)

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Latest Update: October 2022

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